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André Greipel has made the call to hang up his wheels.
Greipel, who turned 39 on Friday, confirmed that he will retire at the end of this season in what is his 16th year in the pro peloton.
The so-called “Gorilla” broke the news before rolling out for the Tour de France time trial Saturday morning.
“Tomorrow’s stage will be definitely my last stage of the Tour de France,” Greipel said. “Also, after 2021 I’m going to retire, so the end of the year will be a point behind my career.”
The Israel Start-Up Nation fastman was one of the most illustrious sprinters of the generation, scoring 11 Tour de France stage wins alongside seven at the Giro d’Italia and four at the Vuelta a España.
“I’m super happy with everything I achieved together with my teammates, together with the stuff around us. I was always happy to get all this support around me, of course, without my teammates, the staff and of course my family I wouldn’t achieve everything I did,” he said.
“I’m not looking back in anger, I’m really looking to the future with a lot of happiness. Because I can do what I want, I can suffer when I want, and spend a lot of time with my family now.”
Greipel’s most prolific spell from 2011-2016 with team Lotto saw him regularly contest bunch kicks with fellow sprint heavyweights Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish.
Greipel’s huge turn of speed has been blunted through recent seasons, with his victory at this spring’s Trofeo Alcudia and Ruta del Sol being his first in over two years. The German veteran has clocked into the top-10 three times so far at this year’s Tour, and Sunday’s Champs-Élysées will be his last chance for Tour de France glory.
Whether Greipel scores one last victory on the Champs or not, his absence will be felt in the peloton. He has become one of the “patrons” of the bunch in recent years as well as being active in helping guide his younger teammates at Israel Start-Up Nation.
Greipel hinted that he may stay in the sport once he unclips from his pedals later this year.
“I wish everybody good times in the pro peloton. And of course, I won’t be away from cycling – I hope somehow to stay in cycling,” he said. “To everybody who supported me throughout my career, my family of course, my trainers, and everybody, whoever was part of my career, I’m really thankful.”
Fittingly enough, Greipel will be going head-to-head with longtime foe Cavendish in the iconic Champs-Élysées sprint Sunday. Greipel will be aiming for his third win in Paris, while Cavendish is hoping to break records with a 35th Tour win.
The “Manx Missile” vs the “Gorilla,” one last time.
Today, @AndreGreipel has an announcement to make.
— Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy (@TeamIsraelSUN) July 17, 2021